What’s blooming now at the Arboretum? Lilacs

There are so many beautiful lilacs blooming at the Royal Botanical Gardens Arboretum today. If only pictures could smell!

Katie Osborne Lilac Collection

This collection is named after the wife of Colin Osborne as a memoriam.  There are over 745 plants in the dell and surrounding area making it one of the more diverse lilac collections in the world. Thanks to the informative displays we learned that around 21 different species occur in the wild, originating in Asia and Europe. All those lovely lilacs I saw as a child growing “wild” in the ditches are offspring of imported plants.

Press on any picture to see the full size image.

Color classification is established by the Wister Code, named after John Wister. The color catagories are

  • I. White
  • II. Violet
  • III. Blueish
  • IV. Lilac
  • V. Pinkish
  • VI. Magenta
  • VII. Purple

The flowers are also classified as either Single – with four petals, or, Double – with more than four petals.

So my classification for the lilac below would be D3 (Double, blueish). I’m probably wrong though.

Double blueish lilac at the Katie Osborne Collection, Hamilton

Purple cut leaf lilac at RBG Arboretum, Hamilton
Cut Leaf Lilac

The Cut Leaf Lilac is an unusual variety that I had never seen before. I loved the airy nature of the plant compared to the typical dense lilac bush.

Breeders like Victor Lemoine, Manitoba-born Frank Leith Skinner, and Canada’s first female hybridizer, Isobella Preston, have all contributed to the wide variety of bloom size, shape, color, and, of course, scent. The dell was incredible today with the symphony of colored blossoms and individual perfumes.

More information about color classification and identification can be found on the Royal Botanical Garden website.